Fealty of the Short, Dark Feeling

I’ve been experimenting with which additives
make the black crater inside myself
shrink or grow. The recipes amaze.

Loneliness fills it with what I imagine
potash looks like, a particularly tender person
hollows the sides like a November pumpkin.

I’m like a porch dog on the top step
arrowed toward the world. Occasionally
I slump down and make a half-hearted nest

in the grass. Mostly my interiors are clearcuts
on some northwestern island southern people
think is perpetually covered in snow and

eastern people think is evidence
of our weakness. We’re just a minority here,
amongst the brightening alder stems

and the occasionally uncut fir standing
like a starved sheriff in the field. My west
is a peculiar mix of fermented berries

and machinery parts covered in moss
that makes the cogs shine like onyx,
which I have always wanted to put

in a poem cage, and adorn like a Christmas
palm. I know I will never be good.
My worry machine is not the shape

of a country in the Americas. It does not purr
as the machete’s blade rises. It’s a soft
multiple feeling like being alone

on a lakeside walkway in the midst
of 100 families, then returning weeks later
on someone’s arm and not even recognizing

the place. A dog finds the entrance
to the crater, enters as through a
rabbit tunnel, her tail faintly swaying.

The invincibility of appearances
is where failure becomes universal,
something even you are doing. It’s where

the poem cage’s front viewing window
opens to the public and everyone
can see the prey I eat wasn’t caught by me.

This poem “Fealty of the Short, Dark Feeling” originally appeared in Emerging Scholars 2. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 228-229 (Spring/Summer 2016): 206-207.

Please note that works on the Canadian Literature website may not be the final versions as they appear in the journal, as additional editing may take place between the web and print versions. If you are quoting reviews, articles, and/or poems from the Canadian Literature website, please indicate the date of access.